## Solving Nonlinear Elliptic Equations: Calling PETSc from Cactus

August 28, 2001

Abstract

The Cactus thorn TATPETSc provides a simple interface to the SNES interface of PETSc. SNES (“Simple Nonlinear Elliptic Solver”) is a set of eﬃcient parallel solvers for sparse matrices, i.e. for discretised problems with small stencils. The main task of TATPETSc is in handling the mismatch in the diﬀerent parallelisation models.

### 1 Introduction

PETSc (“The Portable, Extensible Toolkit for Scientiﬁc Computation”)  is a library that, among other things, solves nonlinear elliptic equations. It is highly conﬁgurable, and using it is a nontrivial exercise. It is therefore convenient to create wrappers for this library that handle the more common cases. Although this introduces a layer that is a black box to the PETSc novice, it at the same time enables this PETSc novice to use this library, which would otherwise not be possible.

At the moment there exist three wrapper routines. Two of them handle initialisation and shutting down the library at programme startup and shutdown time. The third solves a nonlinear elliptic equation.

### 2 Nonlinear Elliptic Equations

Nonlinear elliptic equations can be written in the form

$F\left(x\right)=0$

where $x$ is an $n$-dimensional vector, and $F$ is function with an $n$-dimensional vector as result. The vector $x$ is the unknown to solve for. The function $F$ has to be given together with initial data ${x}_{0}$ for the unknown $x$.

In the case of discretised ﬁeld equations, the vector $x$ contains all grid points. The function $F$ then includes the boundary conditions.

Consider as an example the Laplace equation $\Delta \varphi =0$ in three dimensions on a grid with $1{0}^{3}$ points. In that case, the unknown $x$ is $\varphi$, with the dimension $n=1000$. The function $F$ is given by $F\left(x\right)=\Delta x$. Remember that, once a problem is discretised, derivative operators are algebraic expressions. That means that calculating $\Delta x$ does not involve taking analytic (“real”) derivatives, but can rather be written as linear function (matrix multiplication).

### 3 Solving a Nonlinear Elliptic Equation

The wrapper routine that solves a nonlinear elliptic equation is

 void TATPETSc_solve (

 const cGH *cctkGH,

 const int *var,

 const int *val,

 int nvars,

 int options_table,

 void (*fun) (cGH *cctkGH, int options_table, void *userdata),

 void (*bnd) (cGH *cctkGH, int options_table, void *userdata),

 void *data);

There is currently no Fortran wrapper for this routine.

This routine takes the following arguments:

cctkGH
a pointer to the Cactus grid hierarchy
var
the list of indices of the grid variables $x$ to solve for
val
the list of indices of the grid variables that contain the function value $F\left(x\right)$
nvars
the number of variables to solve for, which is the same as the number of function values
options_table
a table with additional options (see below)
fun
the routine that calculates the function values from the variables
bnd
the routine that applies the boundary conditions to the variables
data
data that are passed through unchanged to the callback routines

The options table can have the following elements:

CCTK_INT periodic[dim]
$dim$ ﬂags indicating whether the grid is periodic in the corresponding direction. ($dim$ is the number of dimensions of the grid variables.) The default values are 0.
CCTK_INT solvebnds[2*dim]
$2\cdot dim$ ﬂags indicating whether the grid points on the corresponding outer boundaries should be solved for (usually not). The default values are 0.
CCTK_INT stencil_width
the maximum stencil size used while calculating the function values from the variables (should be as small as possible). The default value is 1.
CCTK_FN_POINTER jacobian
The real type of jacobian must be void (*jacobian)(cGH *cctkGH, void *data). This is either a routine that calculates the Jacobian directly, or 0 (zero). The default is 0.
CCTK_FN_POINTER get_coloring
The real type of get_coloring must be void (*get_coloring)(DA da, ISColoring *iscoloring, void *userdata). This is either a routine that calculates the colouring for calculating the Jacobian, or 0 (zero). You need to pass a nonzero value only if you have very special boundary conditions. The default is 0.

A few remarks:

• In order to be able to call this routine directly, it is necessary to inherit from TATPETSc in the thorn where this routine is called.
• Increasing stencil_width from 1 to 2 increases the run time by about a factor of 5. In general you want to be able to set stencil_width to 1. Note that calculating $F$ does normally not require upwind derivatives with their larger size. stencil_width does not have to be equal to the number of ghost zones.
• One sure way to speed up solving nonlinear elliptic equations is to provide an explicit function that calculates the Jacobian. While such a function is in principle straightforward to write, it is very (very!) tedious to do so. If you pass 0 for this function, the Jacobian is evaluated numerically. This is about one order of magnitude slower, but is also a lot less work.

### 4 Initial data

A linear elliptic equation does not need initial data. However, a nonlinear elliptic equation does. It may have several solutions, and the initial data select between these solutions. The initial data ${x}_{0}$ have to be put into the variables $x$ before the solver is called. The function values $F\left(x\right)$ can remain undeﬁned.

### 5 Boundary Conditions

There are two functions that you have to apply boundary conditions to. You need to apply boundary conditions to the right hand side, i.e. $F$, and to the solution, i.e. $x$.

The routine bnd has to apply boundary conditions to $x$ at exactly those boundaries where solvebnds is false. (The boundaries where solvebnds is true have already been determined by the solver.) This includes imposing the symmetry boundary conditions. Not applying a boundary condition on the outer boundaries is equivalent to a Dirichlet boundary condition, with the boundary values given in the initial data ${x}_{0}$.

After calculating $F$, you need to apply the necessary boundary conditions to $F$ as well. You have to do this in the routine fun that calculates $F$.

### 6 The Solution, Or Not

When the solver returns, the result is available in $x$. $F\left(x\right)$ contains the corresponding function value, which should be close to zero.

It is possible that the solver doesn’t converge. In this case, $F$ will not be close to zero.

It is possible (by the way of programming error) to make certain grid points in $F$ independent of $x$, or to ignore certain grid points in $x$ while calculating $F$. This leads to a singular matrix when the nonlinear solver calls a linear solver as a substep. Such a system is ill-posed and cannot be solved.

### 7 Excision

An excision boundary leads to a certain number of grid points that should not be solved for. In order to avoid a singular matrix, it is still necessary to impose a condition on these grid points. Assuming that you want a Dirichlet-like condition for these grid points, I suggest

$F\left(x\right)=x-{x}_{0}$

where ${x}_{0}$ are the initial data that you have to save someplace. Note that you have to impose this (or a diﬀerent) condition not only onto the boundary points, but onto all excised points, i.e. all points that are not solved for.

(The above condition satisﬁes $F\left(x\right)=0$ for $x={x}_{0}$, which will be the solution for these grid points. Setting $F\left(x\right)=0$ does not work because it leads to a singular matrix, as outlined above.)

### 8 Common PETSc options

Options Database Keys (from the PETSc documentation)

-snes_type type
ls, tr, umls, umtr, test
-snes_stol
convergence tolerance in terms of the norm of the change in the solution between steps
-snes_atol atol
absolute tolerance of residual norm
-snes_rtol rtol
relative decrease in tolerance norm from initial
-snes_max_it max_it
maximum number of iterations
-snes_max_funcs max_funcs
maximum number of function evaluations
-snes_trtol trtol
trust region tolerance
-snes_no_convergence_test
skip convergence test in nonlinear or minimization solver; hence iterations will continue until max_it or some other criterion is reached. Saves expense of convergence test
-snes_monitor
prints residual norm at each iteration
-snes_vecmonitor
plots solution at each iteration
-snes_vecmonitor_update
plots update to solution at each iteration
-snes_xmonitor
plots residual norm at each iteration
-snes_fd
use ﬁnite diﬀerences to compute Jacobian; very slow, only for testing
-snes_mf_ksp_monitor
if using matrix-free multiply then print $h$ at each KSP iteration

### 9 Installing PETSc

Before you can use TATPETSc, you have to install PETSc. PETSc comes with extensive documentation for that.

In order to be able to use PETSc with Cactus, you have to give certain options when you conﬁgure your Cactus applications. To do so, create an options ﬁle containing the following options.

SYS_INC_DIRS /usr/include/petsc
LIBDIRS /usr/X11R6/lib
LIBS crypt petscfortran petscts petscsnes petscsles petscdm petscmat petscvec petsc lapack blas mpe mpich X11 g2c z

Replace /usr/include/petsc with the corresponding directory on your machine.

If you have other packages that need other options, then you have to combine these options manually. Even if the other options would normally be selected automatically, selecting the PETSc options manually will override the other options.

Do not forget to activate MPI. PETSc needs MPI to run.